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    Strengthen Your Hiring Process By Harnessing the Power of Social Media
    The Vault

    Strengthen Your Hiring Process By Harnessing the Power of Social Media

    April 2016

    We live in a world connected by social media, and business is part of that network.  So much so that 93% of hiring managers report reviewing their candidates’ social media pages before making a hiring decision, according to recruiting platform Jobvite’s 2014 annual Social Recruiting Survey.  

    We want to see that our potential employees have a healthy social network. Social media pages give us a glimpse of what type of person or worker an applicant might be. In an ideal world, we would conduct interviews of stellar candidates, look at their online profiles, and confirm what we thought all along: this person is exactly who we expected him or her to be and will make a great addition to our teams.  But what if that doesn’t happen?  What happens if we look at a candidate’s online profile and our eyebrows simultaneously raise up?  

    Most recruiters agree that there are things prospects do on social media that raise eyebrows and can possibly disqualify them from eligibility for hire. Here, we’ll discuss five red flags that you should weigh heavily when reviewing a candidate’s social media behavior.

    1. The questionable profile pic 

    A picture is worth a thousand words, so if your candidate’s LinkedIn profile picture has him propped up against a bar in a nightclub, you may want to think twice.  That partying profile picture sends a clear message that he can’t separate professional and private life, and that he isn’t at all concerned about being taken seriously.  Remember, if you found him on social media, so will your clients.  Is the party guy really the image you want for your business?  

    Facebook profile pics can and will be “looser” than LinkedIn’s (not headshots), but they should still portray positivity and a reasonable level of decorum.  

    2. The chronic bad mouther

    You want your employees to be positive people capable of getting along with others.  If a potential candidate’s profile is marked with grievances about his or her past employers, coworkers, or clients, you have a pretty clear indication that he’s petty, immature, and unable to work in a team environment.  In addition, this person is at risk of putting sensitive company information at risk and violating professional codes of conduct.  In short, he can’t be trusted.  Move on.

    3. Ranting

    Everyone is entitled to express their viewpoints so long as they do so respectfully.  A profile that is full of highly judgemental or reactionary posts, or commentary that shows clear condemnation of anyone different from him, is a red flag.  Your employees are going to meet people from very different walks of life on a daily basis, and will have to work with all of them.  Is this particular candidate showing any signs he can do that?  

    4. Significant Activity During Working Hours

    If your candidate has prior full-time employment listed on his or her resume, and worked in an industry that maintains regular office hours, it stands to reason that he or she was expected to be working between 9 and 5. If you notice that his or her Facebook posts number 20 a day, and those posts are spread out between 9 and 5, you probably have someone who spends more time on the Internet than working.  A bunch of items in a short time period probably isn’t a big deal, but posts every half hour (assuming the activity isn’t relevant to his or her prior position), is an issue.

    5.  Inappropriate or Grammatically Incorrect Content

    This one is pretty subjective, but if you see the candidate posting derogatory or inappropriate content, using foul language, improper grammar, and the like, then you might have reason to pause.  Again, if you can see the candidate’s profile, so can your clients, vendors, and other stakeholders.  Provocative and/or poorly written content reflects poorly on your organization.

    Understand the Legal Guidelines

    Using social media for recruiting is an easy way of providing a better picture of a candidate as a potential employee, but be careful. Once you review a candidate’s online profile, a court will assume you are aware of that person’s “protected characteristics” that are often part of their online postings. These characteristics include gender and race as well as those things that are not always evident in a face-to-face interview  -- religion, age, sexual orientation, disability, and so on.  You need to be particularly careful not to expand your decision-making beyond legal interview limits.  Consider social media as an extension of the resume, a way to give deeper understanding of the candidate, but not the tool that’s used to make final employment decisions.   As such, it’s better practice to view social media pages after you’ve met a candidate face-to-face. You’ll be far less likely to be accused of making snap selection decisions or of relying on protected characteristics evident from a social network profile if you use social media in this more targeted way.

    If you decide to use social media in your recruiting process, here a few tips:

    • Give the applicant fair notice.  You don’t need to have applicants sign waivers that allow you to review their social media accounts, but it’s a best practice to give them a “heads up” that you will be reviewing any and all “publicly posted social media accounts.”
    • Make sure you conduct the same searches at the same point in the process for every applicant.  
    • Be sure to print or save screen shots if you see something that causes you to question the candidate’s candor, professionalism, or judgment.
    • If you use an outside company to perform the background check, adhere to the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
    • Make sure that your company’s profile states that your business is an “equal opportunity employer.”

    Using  social media can help you filter out prospective candidates quickly.  It’s a powerful tool.  Just use it wisely.

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